Time Keeps On Slippin’ Into The Future

The last few weeks, during coaching sessions with Sir Steven, we have spent a lot of time working on arm motions. I have to say, this is going to be one of those hard things for me to work on. Watching Sir Steven move his arms around, he makes it look so… graceful. LikeAnEagle1Watching myself in the mirror, I don’t look anything like that. For years and years, I have trained my arms with movements that involve things like Kenpo or lifting heavy objects. Neither of those training methods involves a lot of finesse, as I’m sure you can imagine. Thinking about moving my arms delicately is a foreign concept to me, focusing much less on power (which is what I’m used to focusing on) and much more on the movement itself. Practicing that type of movement is also difficult. When I’m in a studio setting, there are mirrors all around that I can use to watch myself, but when I’m at home I would have to be standing in the bathroom to see what I was doing. That just seems strange and dangerous, since the bathroom is small enough that my wingspan pretty much covers it. So it really doesn’t happen on my own time. I’m sure that I would improve much more quickly if I actually spent time practicing the movement. Perhaps that means I need to break down and invest in a mirror and hang it in a room where I have enough space to flail my arms around safely. We’ll see. The holidays are coming; maybe I can add that to some kind of wish list.

Earlier this week I also sat down with Sir Steven and Sparkledancer and we discussed our future dance goals related to competition. Sir Steven said that the level we were currently studying at was a good time to start introducing some of the International dance styles into our mix, so we could actually start working on putting together a Pasodoble routine (yay!). The tradeoff for doing that would be that we would also start working on Samba, so that it wouldn’t be us doing everything in American style and then just one International Latin dance. I have only a little experience with Samba, most of that stemming from a line dance I learned way back when I started my journey through the Dance Kingdom. I do know that Botafogo is probably one of the coolest dance-related words I have ever learned, so this might work out. Sparkledancer likes Samba a lot, so I know she is all for it. Originally when he mentioned doing more than one International style dance, I had thought about adding Quickstep, but that idea was shot down because that would be adding one International Latin and one International Standard dance, which would not be ideal. At this rate though, someday I expect the two of us will decide to just compete with everything in all categories. I mean, learning ten different dance style routines is not that different from learning twenty one different styles, right? It should be totally easy…

This past weekend’s dance field trip to the Grand Dance Hall was a lot of fun. This ballroom was having a weekend dance event, which was two nights of dancing to a live orchestra and some group classes offered on Saturday for anyone signed up to also attend. Sparkledancer and I were the only ones that ended up going from our little group, and when we got there we found that the average age of all the other attendees was around thirty five years older than we were, so we stood out in the crowd. Actually, the entire event reminded me a lot of the dance field trip that we took way back in September when we went to the other social dancing night at a different ballroom – a lot of people on the floor for certain dance styles like Foxtrot, Rumba and Waltz, not very many people participating in more obscure styles like Viennese Waltz and Quickstep, and pretty much everyone was much older than us so they didn’t engage in too much conversation with us younger kids.

We did a lot of Waltz. The floor was packed with people, but I managed to do pretty well maneuvering around without running either myself or my dance partner into anyone. The Foxtrot was much more dangerous – for some reason, Foxtrot songs drew many more people to the floor, and there were people in the middle who wanted to dance either Hustle or East Coast Swing to the Foxtrot songs. This made things even more dangerous, since those couples wouldn’t always stay in the middle, and as they drifted toward the outside it would be harder to avoid hitting either them or all the other couples working their way around them. The Rumba dances that we did also tended to get dangerous. When learning Rumba, I was told to try and keep things contained – you have a little circle on the floor, and you don’t drift outside of it or you would lose points. While dancing with all of these people, it seemed like everyone was trying to invade the circle on the floor that I had staked out, even if I started out with a considerable gap between where I was standing and where anyone else was standing. The night dances certainly forced me to keep on top of my floorcraft game.

The lessons offered on Saturday were equally interesting. They offered two levels of classes: basic and intermediate/advanced. Since most places I’ve been to in the Dance Kingdom do not technically rank their classes as beginner, intermediate or advanced like I have heard that other dance studios do, we weren’t sure where our level of training would fall. The first class of the day was a Tango, and Sparkledancer and I decided to go to the beginner level class first to see what it was like. It turned out that beginner level was really just that – newcomer Tango. We stayed for about twenty minutes, then left to go to the other room where the higher level class was offered. This class turned out to be much more interesting. Partly that was because they were going over things that fell more into place with things we had been working on, but also because the class was being taught by a married couple who were making really inappropriate jokes a lot of the time. The male instructor had to be more than twice my age, so some of the jokes he made caused me to cringe a little, but all the older people in class thought it was hilarious. Let me tell you, I am still far too young to hang out with old people making dirty jokes. The three classes they went through that day were in Tango, Rumba and Swing, and each lasted for an hour-and-a-half. Because there were so many people taking the classes and they taught these longer figures in pieces, we did not go LikeAnEagle2over everything they were trying to get through. I ended up recording the instructors doing the figures slowly at the end of each class, and I promised Sparkledancer that I would review what we were doing on the video and write it up so that we could go over it together at some point when we have some free time to get everything memorized.

Other than that, it’s been a rather calm week here in the Dance Kingdom. Everyone I have talked to at the Land of the Loft has told me that they are all geared up for this coming weekend’s Halloween ball at the Great Dance Hall, so I am super excited for that. There will be dancing, and costumes, and spooky-themed snacks for everyone! If you’re in the area, it is an open dance party for anyone who is in costume, so stop by and we can all party together. I can’t believe it’s been a whole week, and now there’s only a couple of days left to go!


You Do Your Body Work

Last weekend Lady Q was out of town, so the task of teaching her Pilates class fell to Lord Fabulous. Rather than try and teach Pilates (he has tried in the past, and it didn’t go so well…), he spent the class period teaching a surprise course that went over movement of body energy – how the body stretches and flows in the direction your movement is trying to flow. Since the class was smaller than normal (and it’s an early morning class on a Saturday, so it’s already a small class), Lord Fabulous thought it was a good opportunity to try out teaching this material since it really didn’t fit into any of the already scheduled classes they have going right now, and to see how we would all react to learning it. There was one crazy activity BodyWork1that exemplifies what I took away from the class – we were told to pretend that we had a ball of energy in one of our hands, and we were moving our whole bodies to move that ball of energy around. This started off as a solo exercise, but as the class progressed we paired off and were told to place our hands against our partners to “share” the ball of energy and move the other person without “moving” them, but rather allowing the energy of the movement to signal to the other person how they needed to move their body. Sometimes this turned into a flexibility and strength test, where we would push each other just to see how much movement the other person could handle just for fun. One partner I had got a bit carried away near the end and was convinced that she could knock me over by shifting her weight forward unexpectedly so that I would falter trying to hold her up.

It was an interesting class to go through. I’ll admit that I missed Pilates a bit. Even though it is early on a Saturday, it does help me get out of bed and get warmed up and stretched out for the rest of the day. I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so I probably would have gotten more out of the class had it been offered later in the day when I was more awake. Lord Fabulous seemed pleased with how the class went, so I’m sure we will go through something like that again someday.

Want to know a secret? I think I really like the Pasodoble. I think I may have to put some significant effort into learning that style. There is something so ridiculous and dramatic about it, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. And no matter what else is going on, if anyone starts dancing in that style, everyone seems to turn and look. Last night, Chanel, Sparkledancer and I were standing in the middle of the studio after the Tango class and were discussing the funny cape-like movement that the ladies had learned. When we started practicing that movement, you could feel all the eyes in the room turn to watch us. Later on in the evening, Sir Steven was showing Sparkledancer and I some new movements for fun, and the group class that was going on in the other half of the room stopped and every head turned to watch what we were doing (I could see them all in the mirror, so none of them can deny it). Every time I see the people stopping to watch, it makes me laugh. I don’t know if I could keep a straight face while doing a Pasodoble routine, but I think I am going to have a goal to try and add one to my competition repertoire. It would be worth the effort, I believe.

Our Friday night outings have gotten much larger the last couple of weeks. After the Friday night social dance at the Land of the Loft, we have still been going out for ice cream. What started as a small group of us in the beginning has turned into… well, everyone. The last two weeks we somehow had everyone who had been at the studio for the dance (save for the staff, who aren’t allowed to fraternize with us outside of the business) meeting with us to get dessert and talk afterward. As you can imagine, a lot of the talk centers on dancing, since it is the one thing all of us in this rather motley crew have in common. In some ways, it’s nice to be able to all go out as one big “dance family” and spend time together, but it seems like the more people that show up, the less we end up talking as a group and the more we end up talking in several smaller groups. It will make it much harder to talk with everyone and make plans if we decide to go off on an adventure together.

Speaking of adventure… this weekend there will most likely be another dance field trip. This one wouldn’t be just random ballroom-style dancing at a random dance club, but actual ballroom dancing with an actual orchestra playing in an actual ballroom. I’m not sure if anyone will actually go with me, but I think that Sparkledancer has expressed interest. That’s probably mostly because the place is offering some dance lessons during the afternoon before the evening social dance, and she likes to go to all the classes I go to so that we can continue to dance at the same level when we compete. If it happens, I’ll be sure to tell you all about how awesome it is.

In other dance field trip news, it will only be a little over a week before denizens from all over the Dance Kingdom will be gathering at the Great Dance Hall for the Halloween dance party that they host every year. This one is an officially sanctioned dance field trip, hosted by the King and the Princess. I went to this party last year, and it was a lot of fun. In many ways, it’s a lot like going to a dance competition – everyone gathering together, wearing some kind of costume and dancing for a long time. Last year they had some game to try and encourage people to dance together socially. Being new to the Dance Kingdom when I went last year, I didn’t get very far in the game, because I was so unsure of my dance skills that I mostly stood on the outside of the room and watched what everyone else was doing, only venturing out onto the dance floor with other people who attended from the Land of the Loft that I already knew.

BodyWork2 The few of us left at the Land of the Loft who were here for that party last year have been telling everyone that they all need to get dressed up and go with us this year. It will be so much more fun if we all go together, kind of like our Friday night ice cream outings, except we can actually dance since we won’t be on concrete. It’s also rumored to be a friends and family welcome event, so if any of you are in the area, find yourselves a costume and join us for the night!

Let’s See How Far We’ve Come

Things have started to return to normal here in the Dance Kingdom. With the latest competition out of the way, and the next event, the performance showcase, being a few months out, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and relax a bit. This brief lull gives us some time to reflect on how things are going, where we all want to go in our dance journey, and take a look at the scores from our competition heats to see what it is that those of us who did compete need to work on to improve.

It seems like there are already a large number of people from the Land of the Loft that have signed up to do the upcoming showcase. Many of them have said that they are starting to prepare two, even three routines for performance. I think that I will be sitting that one out though. Up until now, I have done every performance offered to me, but I think for this one I want to attend as a spectator so that I can cheer on the people I know who are performing, much like they did when I was dancing in the last couple of competitions. I’m also kind of hoping that the push to perform will help the people who have already signed up advance their skills so that they can start joining us in the more advanced group classes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little core group of about six people we have in those classes – these are all the people that I have been dancing with the longest on this journey I’m on, so we know each other the best. But I know a lot of the others watch the things that we do in these classes and ask about joining in with us, because we always seem to be having fun. I’d love for them to join in our merriment. It would make things… merrier.

Speaking of group classes, this month I am super excited to be taking a class in Pasodoble. Because of the competition at the end of last month, they never really put out the schedule for this month’s classes (or I never really went out of my way to look for it), HowFar1so it was kind of a surprise to see that it was being offered. This will be my first time dipping my toes into this dance style, and so far the class has been ridiculous. I understand the history of the dance, and the drama that should be involved when doing it, but every time we switch partners and start dancing I think back to a movie that someone convinced me to watch (that I’m sure you all know), and it makes me laugh to think that now I can be the one doing the ‘sort of dance you dance so late at night.’ And since all of us in class have seen that movie, when one of us starts laughing or making ridiculous comments, everyone else cannot help but laughing. On top of that, they have the intermediate level group class going on the other side of the room, and all of our stomping and laughing has everyone watching us rather intently, which only heightens the hilarity of the experience. Maybe the next time I sign up to compete I will try and convince my dance partner that we need to add a Pasodoble routine to the mix. It would be (at this point) the only International-style dance we do, but it would be totally worth it.

This past Saturday night a number of us got together to go out for a dance field trip to another random 40s and 50s singles dance party that Bony had found and invited us all to. More people attended this dance field trip than the last time we had done a similar HowFar2trip – Bony, Sparkledancer, Jack and Diane, Chanel, The Crank, Enthusiasm, the Heartbreak Kid and Amazon all decided to come along. The back room where we sat and had dinner before the party started had the furniture moved around, so it was almost like a private dance area that we took over for the night, with a big open space in the middle. Much like last time we spent the evening doing mostly Hustle and Cha-Cha, some East Coast Swing when the tempo permitted and even occasionally some Rumba as the DJ would slow the music down so that the singles could get a little closer. There was one particularly fascinating man who would come into our little room in the back every so often, bringing a different girl with him seemingly every time he came back, and he would dance the Carolina Shag quite brilliantly as we all stopped to watch and clap. Being the first dance field trip we’ve had since competition, it felt good to get back to being a bit silly and having people watch what we were doing. I even got to play dance ambassador to a couple of different ladies that night, trying to convince them that if they wanted to learn to dance with us, there was a great place I knew of for them to go. We’ll see if anything comes of that. So far I am at a great big 0 for the number of people my dance ambassadorship has succeeded with.

Because I’m sure everyone is curious, I’ll tell you about the scores I got back. This competition was scored on a 10-point scale, with a score of 5 meaning that you were on par with the level that you were signed up to compete at during the heat. From what Sir Steven told everyone when handing out the scores, there were no 10s given out, and only three 9s given out of all the competitors in all the heats for the whole day. With that in mind, I did some calculations with what I got (because I guess I really am a dance nerd), and here are some of the highlights:

  • The scores for the heats I danced with Sparkledancer were better overall than the scores I got for the heats I danced with Lady Q. I’m chalking this up to practice, since I spent a lot more time practicing with her.
  • Based on the average of the heat scores, the best dance style for me no matter whom I danced with was East Coast Swing. Not terribly surprising.
  • Based again on the average of the heat scores, the worst dance style for me is the slow Waltz. This one was a surprise of sorts – I was worried that I would have placed really low in all the Viennese Waltz heats that I did, but that was not the case. I guess I have that dance under control more than I originally thought.
  • From everyone I talked to, I don’t think anyone got a score of less than 5. That was my lowest score in any heat. The majority of the heats I did (60%) I scored a 6, so that makes me feel like I did pretty well.
  • My highest heat scores were 7s, and I only got those with heats in Bolero, Cha-Cha, East Coast Swing, Viennese Waltz (I don’t know how that happened), and Rumba.
  • As Sparkledancer and I were comparing our scores, I did slightly better with Lady Q HowFar3than she did with Sir Steven. I attribute this again to practice – I scheduled time to practice the routines with Lady Q, while Sir Steven never managed to find time to run through things with Sparkledancer. Also (and probably more relevant), I was leading, so I made sure to stay on routine as much as possible. From what my dance partner told me, Sir Steven would get bored and change things on her, so she never knew what to expect.

I’d say that’s pretty good for only having sixteen months of dance experience, wouldn’t you?

Had The Guts, Got The Glory

Dinner was much more relaxed than lunch, and I actually got to eat some real food. It was also really nice to sit for a while in non-dance shoes, giving my toes some room to stretch out for a while. Being a fancy hotel, dinner was multi-course and served by staff. When dessert was being served, they made an announcement for all the people participating in the evening dances to go get ready. Dessert turned out to be some kind of apple-thingy (I’m not very good with food names), a white-chocolate stick and some ice cream. Sensing a dilemma, I ate the ice cream beforehand so that I wouldn’t come back to a melted mess, and told the others at the table where I was sitting to protect the plate so that the staff wouldn’t come back and collect it before I had a chance to eat the rest.

I headed back to the dressing room to change back into my dance shoes. My dance partner met me out in the hallway. We talked for a while, stretched a bit, and did some half-hearted practice steps on the carpet. For some reason, this was the most nerve-wracking part of the day. This championship round would theoretically be shorter than the last one I did, but for some reason it made me more nervous than anything else I had done that day. They got us all to wander to the back of the ballroom and hide amongst the curtains behind the stage where the judge and emcee were sitting. Of all the dancers participating in this championship round, there was one other pair of amateurs with us; everyone else was Pro-Am. As the four of us stood there listening to the Pros making jokes back and forth, we looked at each other, and I made some nervous quip about wondering how I got talked into doing this. The other amateurs I had met before, having attended many of the same parties thrown at various locations in the Dance Kingdom. They have both been studying dancing for many years, and at one point they were even students of Sir Steven back when he taught at the Great Eye1Dance Hall. Of all the people in this round, Sparkledancer and I were the only true bronze-level students, so we were seriously outgunned. As the announcer started calling each set of names and the pair of competitors emerged one at a time from behind the curtains to the cheering of the crowd, I asked my dance partner if she wanted to split and each of us exit around opposite sides of the curtain, of if we should both exit out the same side (every couple who had gone before us had done it differently). She opted for both of us going out the same side. As our names were called, I took her hand and straightened my spine, and led her out into the bright lights shining down on the dance floor.

Things went well during this competition round. They had dimmed the lights in the outer section of the room and everyone that had been eating dinner had pulled their chairs up at the very edge of the dance floor. With people sitting so close, it was much easier to make faces at people as I passed, but I don’t think anyone saw what I was doing. Just like the heats that we had run earlier in the day, the Foxtrot felt really strong to me, followed by Tango then Waltz, with Viennese Waltz feeling the least stable. Part of that was due to one of the other dancers clipping my foot as I started doing reverse rotations down one of the long walls. I managed to keep on time, but I couldn’t get my footwork back in the correct configuration until I made it to the other corner and put in some cantor turns. There were a lot more couples doing that Viennese Waltz than in any of the heats that I had done earlier, so it was bound to be slightly more dangerous. Other than that foot incident, I didn’t run into anyone for that entire championship round, which I mark down as a win in my book.

It was nice that my dance partner and I received thunderous applause when we first entered the floor, even though I think everyone in the audience knew there was no real chance for us to place highly against all the other competitors in this round. Despite that, it was actually a fun championship round to do. As I’ve said, the smooth-style dances are not my forte, but to actually compete in a round like that and feel semi-competent at the same time shows that maybe in some small way I have been improving. After the last song ended and I spun Sparkledancer out, we stood as people clapped for a bit and then everyone headed off the floor. With that out of the way, I could catch my breath and relax the rest of the night. There were bigger and better things to look forward to from this point forward, none of which involved me doing any dancing.

As we settled in to finish the dessert that we had abandoned earlier, our first entertainment of the night took the stage. At the Great Dance Hall they had recently brought on a new Dance Lord, and he was performing some sort of contemporary dance number solo for everyone. Based on the way the ladies had been gossiping about this young man and his physique all day, we’ll call him Hot Tottie. His dance number was a sight to behold. He would leap about, getting an impressive amount of height with each and every jump. He would bend and swivel his body in ways that I don’t know if I could ever do enough yoga to accomplish myself. On top of that, he was just a really nice guy, which made watching him dance even more fun. I had gotten to talk to him a couple of times during the day, and there was even a time earlier  when my dance partner and I were standing together in the ballroom and he came over to tell us that we were a lot of fun to watch out on the floor. Seeing him perform solo made that compliment resound even more.

Even though there was all that leaping, the song he was dancing to was not "I Believe I Can Fly"
Even though there was all that leaping, the song he was dancing to was not “I Believe I Can Fly”

When Hot Tottie finished up and left all the ladies in the room swooning as he left the floor, it was time for the five-dance International Latin exhibition. The two main male Lords from the Great Dance Hall, Lord Bradley and Tall Steven, were performing for this round, but it was really Tall Steven’s professional dance partner (rumor has it that she’s also his wife) that took over the floor. This girl had been the deck captain for this competition and the Spring Fling, making sure that everyone was in order, keeping things in line, checking everyone off and sternly ushering people on and off the floor as necessary. I’ve met her several times, and this serious side of her is what I usually see when I interact to her. But, when she dons a sparkly outfit and gets out under the spotlight to dance, it’s like she transforms into a whole different person. Because of that, we’ll refer to her as Arcee. Arcee Eye3really took the floor by storm, so much so that the other couple on the floor, and many times even her dance partner, were lost as people were transfixed by her presence. Every shimmy she did in the Samba, every kick in the Jive, and every dramatic stomp during the Pasodoble were all designed to keep attention focused on just this girl. And there was good reason to watch her – she looked like she was having a blast while dancing. I really hope that someday people will want to watch me dance and have fun like that. Maybe I should start studying what she does and learn a thing or two from it.

After that it was time for the American Smooth four-dance exhibition. The Lords and Lady of our little corner of the city were all dancing in this, Sir Steven paired with Lady Q and Lord Fabulous dancing with a Lady who originates from another studio. I have to say that this, far and away was probably the most interesting thing I saw all night. I know that Sir Steven is an excellent dancer, since obviously I am still paying to learn things from him. I have seen him occasionally do exhibition pieces with various people during my time in the Dance Kingdom. I’ve also seen him doing many heats with his various students in the competitions I have been part of. This was the first time I had ever seen him do something where he was dancing things competitively with Eye4someone who can dance at his level, like Lady Q. He took ownership of that floor during this event, much like Arcee did during the last exhibition (and Tall Steven and Arcee were performing again in this exhibition as well). It was easy to see why he is the head instructor at the Land of the Loft. He outshone Lady Q, even though they were dancing together, and he never let anyone get too close to him without keeping them in line. There were even a couple of times when he even struck people who dared enter his dance bubble as he would move his arms, a strike that never fazed him but caused whomever was struck to look over at him with fear in their eyes. Of all the other competitors on the floor though, it was Lord Fabulous I felt the worst for. Having spent so much time around Lord Fabulous, I know that he is a very good dancer in his own right, but he kind of got lost in the crowd, and never really did anything to draw attention to what he was doing. Granted, that might have also been because he and his partner were so much shorter than everyone else on the floor, so it was easy to lose them…

This is an actual photo taken during their performance, I swear.

As the Lords and Ladies of the Dance Kingdom filed off the floor when their round was complete, it was time for the Princess and Hellmanns to perform. They did two numbers together – one that was slow and dramatic, and one that was quick and fun. I remember thinking while watching them together that it is really impressive to see how they can move so in sync with each other, even though they hadn’t spent much time practicing together before this performance. In order to do what I had done during this event, I had to schedule so much time week after week to practice with Sparkledancer, to make sure that we not only knew our steps, but knew what it felt like to do those steps with the other person on the floor with me. It’s amazing to think that these two can dance like that with each other in these complicated routines without going through that level of practice. Is that what it means to truly be a professional? To know what you are doing so well that you can perform with someone else without much rehearsal time beforehand? How long does it take to achieve that level? That’s what I kept thinking while they danced.

With the exhibitions finished, it was time for the award ceremonies. Because the score sheets had not been fully tabulated yet, they spent the time that they had scheduled to hand out the scores to instead take pictures of the entire cast of competitor and their instructors. We each got called up, once studio at a time; everyone got to stand in front of the stage with the Princess and Hellmanns and their instructor for the photographer they had hired to take some pictures. I’m not sure if we’ll ever get to see those pictures, but I hope they turn out well for whatever they get used for in the future. My dance partner and I went up there with both Sir Steven and Lady Q, since they had both worked with us on routines for this competition. When those pictures were finished, they announced the championship round winners. As expected, in both the championship rounds I participated in, Sparkledancer and I came in last place. Looking back on the results though, if you had taken the list of entrants and put their names in Excel, and then sorted the list with Pro-Am couples first and Amateur couples second, and then did a secondary sort based on how long each student had been taking lessons, you would have gotten the exact same results as the order we lined up in for placement of those championship rounds. I don’t feel bad about it though, I was glad just to be a part of the event. It gives me something to work toward next time, if I decide to do any championship rounds like these.

Of all the awards handed out that night, the most surprising one that they gave out was for the Best Newcomer. Lord Fabulous had a student we call Gable whom he had somehow convinced to be part of this event. By the day of the competition, she had only been taking lessons with him for about two months. It was nice to see someone from the Land of the Loft get recognized like that. At the end of the night, as everyone was packing up to leave, I was talking with Sir Steven and Lord Fabulous about the awards handed out, and they were scheming about how to take home the Best Studio award next time; they were both sad that they hadn’t gotten it this time, even though the Land of the Loft had the most students participating in the competition (their plan to get the award involved some complicated scheme to take out Tall Steven so that he wouldn’t be able to stand in their way).

And that’s that! All in all, it was a great day, and it really made me look back on how far I’ve come, and how far I still need to go to get to where I would like to be. With rumors floating around about the next competition in May, we’ll see if I can bring my skills up yet another level before then!

Hooray for us!
Hooray for us!